Movie Name: Tales from Earthsea
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Release Date(s): July 29, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Strange things are happening in the world. Dragons have been seen in the skies, and darkness is falling. When the King of Enlad is killed by his own son Prince Arren, Arren goes on the run. Arren encounters the Archmage Sparrowhawk, and Sparrowhawk and Arren travel the land. Someone however is searching for power and intends to use it to find eternal life…and Arren and the Archmage could be the key.
Directed by Gorō Miyazaki, Tales from Earthsea (ゲド戦記 or Gedo Senki aka Ged’s War Chronicles) is a fantasy anime film from Studio Ghibli. The movie adapts Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan (1971), The Farthest Shore (1972), and Tehaun (1990) but derives its name from the collection of short stories from 2001. The movie received mixed to positive reviews.
Studio Ghibli always provides interesting and visually amazing stories. With promises of dragons and magic, Tales form Earthsea seems like a natural…unfortunately, the movie is rather slow and dull.
The author Ursula K. Le Guin distanced herself a bit from this project. She said she liked the movie, but it wasn’t her books. I haven’t read any of the Earthsea stories, but this movie doesn’t move to seek them out. Despite being a land of magic and mystery, the story really comes down to what lies within a person’s soul. The movie meanders and is hard to follow until the final showdown which does get more mystical…and it is what the movie needed more of throughout.
The nice thing about Studio Ghibli films is that they spare no expenses in bringing the film to the United States. Often dubbed films just aren’t as good as the original, but the Ghibli films try to make the dubs their own film. The U.S. version of Tales from Earthsea brings in Timothy Dalton, Mariska Hargitay, Willem Dafoe, and Cheech Marin among others. It feels bigger.
The visuals of the movie are good. The detail given to the movie and the art are better than most animated films. The world seemed very rich, but the story doesn’t live up to this richness. If the story was altered for the film, I wished they boosted the fantasy story.
Tales from Earthsea is a very slow-pace story that feels half-developed. The story just doesn’t grab me like a number of Studio Ghibli’s other works, and though the elements are all there, the movie isn’t what I had hoped. I will always give Studio Ghibli a chance, but this isn’t their best work.